"We've got record crops coming out,"
said Jay Solomon, University of Extension educator. "Yield is up
this year, anywhere from 20 to 50 bushels per acre, and grain
storage is filling up quickly."
While increased yield is a welcome problem for most producers,
Solomon said it is important for them to think through their options
for temporary storage. The two most common solutions are modifying
existing farm buildings to store grain or storing grain outside.
In an existing building, Solomon said
it is important to start with a solid surface that can be kept clean
and dry. That means there should be no chemicals or oils on the
floor that could cause contamination or odor and no moisture that
could migrate up into the grain.
Also, because most farm buildings
are not designed to withstand the loading that grain exerts on the
wall, it's important to prepare the building correctly and not
overload it. Solomon recommends an article by Kenneth Hellevang of
North Dakota State entitled "Temporary Grain Storage." It's
available on the Web at
According to Solomon, "Ken's piece
tells you, ‘If you have a certain type of building, here's what it
will sustain, and here are some things you can do to add to it.'"
Aeration is another important factor in temporary grain storage,
Solomon said. Moisture content and grain temperature determine
whether grain should be stored with or without aeration.
"This year, we've got pretty warm grain coming into storage," he
said. "The ambient temperatures are running mid-60s to low 70s. So
if producers are starting into temporary storage right now, they
need to be thinking about cooling that grain down."
If moisture content is less than 15 percent, grain can be held in
storage for extended periods of time without aeration. At 16
percent, corn held at a constant temperature of 50 degrees F with
aeration can be stored for six months.
For every point of moisture above 16
percent, the shelf life of corn decreases by about one month. For
every 10-degree increase in temperature, the shelf life decreases by
"Holding Wet Corn with Aeration," a guide from the University of
Nebraska, offers a chart showing the shelf life of grain over a
range of moisture contents and temperatures. It can be found at
[to top of second column in
If grain is to be stored outside,
Solomon recommends cooling the grain prior to piling, in order to
reduce condensation problems. Because drainage is crucial, place
grain on high ground, preferably on a limestone or concrete pad.
Grain can also be stored directly on the ground if plastic is put
down to keep soil moisture from migrating up into the grain.
Portable bulkheads, which can be built or purchased, or concrete
bumpers, can be used for sidewalls. Cover the grain pile with
plastic or a tarp to minimize damage from rain, snow, wind and
Because condensation under the tarp
can cause problems, one conventional practice uses a hoop structure
to keep space between the plastic and the grain to reduce
condensation and carry moisture away. Aeration ducts, properly sized
and spaced, can be used to blow air through the grain.
A good resource for engineering an
aeration system, indoors or out, is the MidWest Plan Service
publication "Dry Grain Aeration Systems Design Handbook," available
at http://www.mwpshq.org (on
Page 14 of online
catalog). [To download the Adobe Acrobat
Reader for the PDF catalog file, click here.]
When it comes to aerating grain
stored outside, Solomon recently learned of a new approach.
"Instead of blowing air into the grain," he said, "some of the grain
companies have developed a way to draw air out of the grain pile.
They run a perforated tile pipe in the upper part of the pile that's
open to the outside as the air inlet. Fans are hooked up to aeration
ducts on the bottom to draw air down and out, and that creates a
vacuum which helps hold the tarp down."
Whether storing grain inside or out, "A good rule of thumb is to put
the cleanest grain into temporary storage," said Solomon, "because
it has fewer insects and less weed seeds. It's just easier to keep
clean grain in good condition."
Finally, he added, the grain placed in temporary storage should be
the last in and the first out. "Fill all your other options before
you go to temporary storage," he said. "Then, when you start moving
things back out, empty the grain in temporary storage before you
start on the permanent."
For more information on temporary
grain storage, Purdue has compiled a list of links to a number of
state publications on temporary storage alternatives. That list can
be found at
answers to specific questions, contact Solomon at (309) 694-7501 or
of Illinois news release]